CM convenes meet of internet service providers

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has called a meeting of internet service providers on June 10 as part of the ongoing efforts to ensure connectivity for all students.

The intervention by Mr. Vijayan, who also holds charge of the Information Technology portfolio, comes against the backdrop of several students finding it difficult to attend online classes for want of internet access in various pockets, including tribal areas. With low bandwidth affecting large sections of the student community, the government has also been making efforts to ensure high-speed internet supply.

The government had joined hands with various agencies to provide educational tools including smartphones and tablets to students belonging to disadvantaged sections. However, inadequate internet supply has denied equitable access to the virtual classrooms.

The meeting chaired by the Chief Minister is also likely to deliberate on the possibility of providing low-cost internet connection, considering numerous students, especially those hailing from families hit hard by the economic downturn found it extremely difficult to purchase sufficient mobile data for their class hours.

The United Democratic Front (UDF), quoting a recent study by Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, had claimed in the Assembly few days ago that an estimated seven lakh school students lacked access to online education. While a large section belonged to Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe communities, fishing communities and other backward sections, the government did little to bridge the digital divide, they had alleged.

The situation was no different in the higher education sector in which a sizeable section of students suffered due to the problem. Many teachers organisation bemoaned the lack of a comprehensive assessment of internet connectivity and availability of IT tools among schools.

In a preliminary survey conducted last year, the Directorate of College Education had found over 30% of the student community in government colleges lacked access to internet.

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